Are you a middle-aged man who struggles with your weight? You’re not alone.
According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, almost three in four men are considered to be overweight or obese. These issues are especially common in middle age. The reasons for these figures are numerous. Many of us do not eat right nor exercise as much as we should. Genetics also plays a part.
However, one reason for your extra pounds that you may not have considered before is low testosterone.
Many people do not realize that hormones, especially testosterone, play a big part in weight gain and in weight loss. Fortunately, there are ways to offset issues caused by low testosterone; you can win this hormonal battle.
Read on to learn more about low testosterone levels and its influence on weight gain. You’ll also learn things you can do to combat this issue so you can get back to a healthy and comfortable weight before it starts to negatively affect your overall health.
What Is Testosterone?
Both men and women have testosterone in their bodies, but men have far more of this basic hormone. It’s produced primarily in the ovaries in women and in the testicles for men.
Testosterone helps build muscle, initiates and encourages hair growth, strengthens bones, and deepens the voice. It also assists with the mature development of sperm cells and aids in the maintenance of men’s fertility. It’s the most important male sex hormone and it helps to regulate so many of the aspects that make men who they are.
To understand testosterone and its effects on weight gain and weight loss, you must understand that in their simplest form, hormones are messengers. They travel through the bloodstream and carry messages between cells. When they find the cells they seek, they bind to the receptors of those cells and influence the function of those cells.
The Role of Testosterone in Your Body
When testosterone is low, all of the body’s systems are negatively affected. Men with lower-than-normal testosterone levels may notice their hair thinning and may note a decrease in their libido as they age. They may also find that their bones are weaker, therefore they are prone to more injuries as a result.
These things may not be all that noticeable when taken one at a time; even a doctor may not immediately connect all of the above issues to a testosterone deficiency.
However, it seems clear that there is a very clear link between low testosterone and being overweight. When it comes to weight gain or weight loss in middle-aged men, testosterone often plays a part.
There are several reasons for this.
First, lack of testosterone can make building muscle mass difficult, which can, in turn, make losing weight harder than it would be for someone with plenty of this hormone. Low testosterone can also make it challenging to maintain the muscle one already has.
This can make exercising challenging; it will take much more time and effort to see results than it did during your younger years, which can lead to frustration. It may even cause some men to give up their workouts altogether.
Testosterone can also have a large effect on the way fat is distributed around your body. This, too, can influence your weight. The way this works is that when fat cells release an enzyme called aromatase, testosterone is converted into estrogen. If testosterone levels are low, then an imbalance of these two hormones occurs, and the glut of estrogen results in greater fat storage.
Further, low T leads to fat being stored in places you would likely prefer it not to be, like in the belly and chest. Not only is fat in these areas unattractive, but belly fat can also increase your risk of heart disease as well.
Testosterone decreases naturally as men age. Because of this, even if you stuck to the same diet and workout regimen since you were in your twenties, you would begin to see a fat buildup in your thirties, and even more in your forties and fifties due to decreased levels of testosterone.
There are many signs of decreasing testosterone levels that are obvious even without a doctor’s blood test. In addition to the loss of muscle mass and increased body fat, men may find that they have mood swings or memory loss. They may experience sexual dysfunction like a low sex drive, difficulties with their erections, or decreased semen volume. They may also begin to lose their hair and may feel fatigued despite getting plenty of sleep.
Further, some medications can cause a reduction of testosterone. One such example is anti-depressant medication. While there are some forms out there that may not affect your testosterone level, if your anti-depressant is decreasing your testosterone level it can actually lead to mood swings, feeling low, and ultimately working against its own purpose.
The Connection Between Low Testosterone and Weight Gain
The specific and exact method by which testosterone increases body fat is unknown to scientists. However, the connection is clear, as proven by numerous studies.
This connection also is inversely codependent. Not only does low testosterone cause weight gain in men, but men who are overweight have lower levels of testosterone. It can be difficult to determine which of the two things is the cause and which is the effect.
According to science, the issue works in both directions. Research has shown that some men who have lower testosterone levels gain weight faster than their peers with normal levels of the hormone.
Also, we know that muscles burn more calories than fat. Men who don’t work to maintain their muscle mass may experience lower testosterone levels as a result, which can lead to greater weight gain down the road.
Men who are obese have testosterone levels that are as much as 30% lower than men of normal weight. Is their testosterone levels lower because they are obese, or are they obese because their testosterone levels are lower?
For some men, it’s possible to determine which problem came first, but for others, it’s impossible to know.
Testosterone and Obesity
One thing is for certain, though; staying overweight or remaining obese will only exacerbate the low testosterone problem and make it worse.
The production of testosterone is stimulated by certain regions of the brain – the hypothalamus and pituitary glands in particular. When these receptors get the signal that more testosterone is needed, they send a message to the testes to produce more of it.
However, as mentioned above, when the balance between testosterone and estrogen is off, more estrogen is produced. As more estrogen is produced, you store more body fat. Furthermore, estrogen will send signals to the brain that tells it your body doesn’t need any more testosterone. The hypothalamus and pituitary glands will stop sending production messages to the testes, and they will produce less and less testosterone as a result.
It’s a vicious cycle, and it’s difficult to overcome.
When your body has less testosterone flowing through it, it can be hard to find the motivation to go to the gym. The more you put off exercise, the less testosterone is created. This gets worse and worse until you find yourself on your couch wondering how you gained so much weight, and with little drive to do much about it.
Further, when you do work out, your stamina may be decreased and you may have a hard time building up the endurance to stick with it for long.
This can be very frustrating, but it’s crucial that you try to maintain a healthy weight – even as you get older.
As you surely know, weight gain is not good for your health as many negative side effects come along with it. First and foremost, carrying too much weight can cause heart disease, which today is the number one cause of death in our country each year.
That’s not the only health risk of being overweight, though. It can also cause type 2 diabetes, stroke, cancer, osteoarthritis, fatty liver disease, kidney disease, and more. If you want to live a long and comfortable life, you absolutely must stay within the recommended weight range for people of your age and height.
Weight and Testosterone Are Codependent
As mentioned above, weight and testosterone are dependent on one another. You learned that low testosterone can lead to weight gain and that being overweight or obese can reduce testosterone production.
However, these are not the only dependent relationships between the two. Weight and testosterone are related in another, more positive way as well.
So, there’s good news, too. When you exercise and build muscle mass, testosterone levels increase. Bit by bit, as you become more fit, your workouts will become easier. You will gain stamina and endurance and the messages between your brain and your hormones will begin to return to normal, giving you more energy and more motivation to exercise and participate in life the way you used to before you gained the weight.
This may sound easier said than done. However, doing what you need to do to restore your testosterone levels to normal is crucial to your overall health, and in turn, to your happiness as well.
Natural Ways to Boost Testosterone
If you think that your testosterone levels are low, you should speak with your doctor about your concerns. He or she can order a simple blood test to check your testosterone and to find out if yours is low.
When your results come back from the lab, and it turns out that your levels are low, your doctor will likely meet with you to discuss the next steps. Fortunately, there are a number of things that you can do to help get your testosterone levels back to where they should be.
The most basic habit that you can change to improve your testosterone levels is to simply adhere to a healthier lifestyle. Strength training can help you to re-build lost muscle; as mentioned above, this alone will result in increased testosterone production. Cardiovascular exercises also help with heart health as well as burning fat. Cardiovascular exercises incorporated with strength training will help target the fatty areas while strength exercises help rebuild muscle mass.
Getting enough sleep can be a big help, too. If you are able to relax and minimize the stress in your life, you may also see some improvement in your testosterone levels. Chronic stress causes higher-than-normal levels of cortisol, which can also negatively affect testosterone production.
Vitamins and minerals can provide support also. According to medical research, vitamin D and zinc deficiencies seem to be associated with low levels of testosterone. Vitamin D supplements can help, as can eating plenty of meat, nuts, and seeds for added zinc.
Some men also add other supplements to their health regimen to achieve optimum health. Ashwagandha is a medicinal herb that may improve testosterone and fertility in addition to other proven benefits.
Testosterone Treatments for Weight Loss
All of the above suggestions will certainly help middle-aged men return their testosterone levels to their normal quantities for overall health, but some people seek out or require a bit more assistance in this area.
Testosterone replacement therapy is a great way to return testosterone to the human body systems and to enjoy its benefits more rapidly. This can be achieved in a medical setting under a doctor’s supervision. Most commonly, testosterone is delivered into the bloodstream through injections, but it can also be administered as a supplement, a patch, or a cream.
Several studies have shown that this type of testosterone replacement can help with weight loss in patients who have a deficiency. It also seems to help with increasing motivation and reducing fatigue, which can result in the recipients of this therapy being more motivated to spend time in the gym to get back in shape.
Testosterone and Weight Are Connected
As you can see, the relationship between testosterone and weight loss and gain is somewhat complicated but very clear. These two things are connected and it’s very possible that low testosterone is a factor for you if you are struggling with your weight and can’t seem to shed those extra pounds.
If you believe you may have a testosterone deficiency, speak to your doctor.
If you live in Central Florida, give us a call today. We can help; we can answer all your questions and we can’t wait to hear from you.